GEAR REVIEW - LENCARTA QUADLITE
If you're looking for an affordable portrait lighting solution or flash photography just confuses the hell out of you, then look no further than the Quadlite from Lencarta. The quality of the light produced by the 4 x 105w bulbs behind the 80cm diffusion panel is nothing short of lovely. As it's a large light source relative to a person, the shadows are very soft, which makes for flattering light for those bread and butter shots, and gives you the option of more specular look by removing the diffusion screen.
The output from the lamps is pretty decent. You wouldn't want to look directly at it, put it that way. They're controlled by the two switches on the reverse of the unit pictured above. Measuring with the Sekonic L-758 at a distance of 1m I recorded f/3.6, 1/50 sec, ISO 100 with two bulbs on and 1/10th short of f/5.6 with with all 4 bulbs illuminated. If you're unfamiliar with the exposure triangle and not liking those shutter speeds, then up your ISO to 400 and you have 1/200 sec shutter.
For video where 1/50 sec is frequently used as a constant, the Quadlite affords you the ability to use a relatively shallow depth of field. If you want to go shallower than f/3.6 and can't lower your ISO any more, use the principles of the Inverse Square Law and move the light further away from your subject. Simples!! Alternatively, use an ND filter on your lens. If you have correct exposure and want a deeper depth of field, increase your ISO by as many stops you decrease the aperture. For example the light at 1m is f/5.6 but you want f/11, your ISO needs to increase 2 stops from 100 to 400 to counteract the light loss of going the two stops from f/5.6 to f/11.
Build quality is pretty decent, with strong ABS plastic used throughout and features a very useful handle, making it ideal for carrying and fine tuning tilt adjustments. The controls are very straightforward with each switch powering two bulbs. An 80cm softbox is provided which mounts to the front of the unit. There is also an umbrella slot, which enables you to use much bigger modifiers, for even softer lighting.
Putting the Quadlite together is pretty straightforward, although after much experimentation the sequence I found that worked the best is as follows:
Place the head unit on a light stand.
Connect the adapter ring to the head unit.
Take the softbox and lay it flat on the floor, before inserting a rod into the two top corners.
Holding the rods, lift the softbox off the ground and place other opposite ends into the corresponding holes on the adapter ring. The softbox will stay in place and roughly form its final shape.
Insert the remaining two rods into the bottom corners of the softbox before sliding them into the holes on the adapter ring too. The rods will bend slightly but you don't require a lot of force at all. If you find you're having to, you're doing something wrong.
Screw in the E27 bulbs to the head unit starting with the bottom two first. Due to the proximity to another, it can be a little fiddly to start the screw thread off if the upper bulbs are inserted first and you could run the risk of dropping the bulb.
Fit the diffusion panel if desired
If you use the Quadlite out on location, disassembly is very easy but give the lamps at least 3 minutes to cool down, as they do get quite hot. I also highly recommend that you keep all original packaging as it keeps both the bulbs and head units safe and well protected during transportation. It's also great for storing them too.
In conclusion, for the money the Quadlite is a great bit of kit and the light produced by it is very pleasing for portraiture and as a video light for interviews. Build quality is up to Lencarta's usual robust standard and comes with a 3 year warranty (excluding the bulbs naturally). The layout of the controls couldn't be simpler to use and the handle on the reverse is a nice feature and facilitates easy tilt positioning. Due to the size of the Quadlite softbox it is relatively low contrast, so If you're looking for a more dramatic lighting style where shadows and light are much more clearly defined then check out the Lencarta LED 1000, which allows you to use any Bowen's S modifier, enabling you to sculpt the light as you so wish.
For full specifications, check out the Lencarta website.